Design decision which I do not understand


I am a new player and over the last month I noticed a few things with Duelyst that seem like strange design decisions to me. I guess that it me missing something so in the spirit of learning maybe one of you can explain these things to me.

a. Why are all the games so short?

Games are very short with most of them already being finished by turn 9. All other TCGs I played so far had viable control decks and when competing against each other that were the times these games shined and best showed their strategic depths. These were the games that were interesting to watch as audience. Is Duelyst supposed to be like this? It seems this could be easily tweaked by raising the general’s health.

b. What is the purpose of the mana tiles?

All TCG already tend to snowball from the early game which is kinda bad for the game since that depends mostly on the starting hand which is determined by luck (assuming both players have decks with similar strong early game). In Duelyst having early game minions on the board allows you to snowball even faster since the minions can be used to collect the mana orbs which allows you to play strong minions ahead of curve. TCGs usually try to limit early game snowballing by including counterplays and comeback mechanics, the mana tiles in Duelyst do the opposite which seems counterproductive.

c. Why is the deck size 40 cards?

Most games end before turn 9. With replacing every turn I only draw through half my deck. Having a deck size of 30 with 2 copies max of each cards seems much more appropriate. That would make drawing key cards much more reliable and eliminate awkward hands like having 3 copies of the same card. It also would reduce deck costs by 33%.

d. Why can I hold only 6 cards?

This kinda invalidates the concept of card advantage for Duelyst since one cannot collect cards.

e. Why is there no casual mode?

Basic feature of TCG needed to test new decks and play creative fun decks.

f. Why Dr Kron?

Just kidding. Or am I?


I’ll do my best to get into the minds of Counterplay!!!

a. This one is easy! Duelyst’s tagline is literally, “Infinite Depth, Lightning-Fast Matches” ( They wanted the games to be shorter than say Hearthstone or MTG.

b. Mana tiles are another way for the person going 2nd to have a slight advantage while reinforcing that this is a tactical board game; positioning matters! If you notice WHERE the mana tiles are, they are placed with purpose. The player going first typically plays a single 2/3 or 2/2 minion. The player going 2nd can play either a stronger minion (that costs 3) or play two 2/3’s by placing the first on the tile and the second in another position (assuming each costs 2).

c. I am also a little perplexed by this one. I feel like Hearthstone got it right with 2x of any card except legendaries (1x) and a 30 card deck. It creates more consistency while simultaneously not making the game feel pay to win because legendaries have a smaller impact. I know some people will say that HS is P2W, but that’s now after multiple expansions and adventures. Previously, it was very easy to play that game without any legends and without paying any money.

d. Most card games have hand limits; MTG is 7 (at end of turn) and Hearthstone is 10. I think the limited hand size helps with speed of games. Less options means faster turns. I may be missing something, though.

e. AGREED! I’ve seen others say that this used to be there, but S rankers would play in it and make new or casual players lose a lot (not intentionally, just due to their experience). I don’t know if they could institute a better matchmaking system or not, but it should be included, regardless. Without it, testing new decks and just trying to unlock all of the basic cards and heroes is a PAIN!

f. Kron was just released with the latest (and 1st) expansion, Denizens of Shim’zar (Aug 30th). There is a chance that he will be nerfed (as many have requested), but time will tell. He has only been out for a month and a half.

Welcome to the game! Hope you stick around!


a. Yeah but that tagline is BS because it makes no sense. These two aspects are contradictory and cannot be achieved both simultaneously. One always has to find a balance. The longer the game goes the more important decision making becomes and strategic plays like for example holding back on removal cards to get better value later, not playing minions to deny the opponent value from AOE, management of hand size and cards left in your deck and so on will allow for game depths. Short games are strategically more shallow compared to longer games and the outcome is much more determined by luck.

b. I would love see some statistics on this but I am pretty sure going first wins significantly more games than going second. The first player only needs to have one 2-drop on hand to make the optimal turn 1 play while the second player needs two 2-drops for the optimal play which is less likely. Playing a 3-drop on turn 1 as the second player does not give you any advantage unless you also have a 1 mana card because if you play the 3-drop on the mana tile you just waste it however if you play it anywhere else the first player will most likely get it. It is a lose-lose situation. So I doubt that is working as intended. Even if it does giving the second player an additional card and a way to generate 1 free mana like Hearthstone and Elder Scrolls Legend does seems like a better solution without the negative side effect of snowballing the early game on random chance.

d. Yeah as long as games stay this fast a control style of play is not viable anyway so card advantage does not really matter.


What about the tagline is BS? Speed chess is the definition of incredibly complex and lightning fast and it works fine. The games right now are especially fast because of a meta that favors aggro and games that end quickly - and control right now isn’t very viable so it makes most games go even faster than what I think is the intended average. This just happens as metas shift, I’m sure at some people there will be people asking why games take so long when the meta shifts to being more control-friendly.

The last statistic I remember hearing was a roughly 10% higher chance of winning going second. May be an old statistic but I haven’t heard one since. It’s grid tactics, positions matter a lot more here than in those other games and creating something to fight over in the center of the grid makes the early game more interesting.

Card advantage ABSOLUTELY matters. Last I checked Spelljammer is the most played legendary - even more than the big bad wolf Kron. I see it in pretty much every list - while Kron is 90% maybe Spelljammer is more along the lines of 95+%. I’ve seen a lot of burned cards from things like Lantern Fox or Sojourner when they’re played with your hand too full so it matters and although I’m not sure on the intent I think it’s to make sure people can’t get crazy advantage off of cards like that and run away with the game. May just be to speed games up, though, sounds just as likely to me.


First speed chess is not a TCG, second it is only fast because of the time limit not because it has less turns than regular chess. You could have a TCG which supports viable control decks that last 20+ turns and limit the turn time to 10 second and viola it is lightning fast. You completely missed my point.

Regarding the card advantage you kinda make my point. In every other TCG having more cards than your opponent is good (disregarding mill decks) because it gives you more options and chances for combo and tempo plays. Making your opponent run out of cards by saving up cards and then going for X-for-1 plays with AOE is a viable strategy. In Duelyst you not only cannot do that but having a lot of cards even gets turned into a drawback by cards like neutral (!) Spelljammer that can easily mill you because the maximum hand size of so small. So Duelyst offers no control decks that require long term strategic planning but everyone can play a fun mill deck that just vomit all cards on board. Great.


It really sounds like you want this to just be other CCGs and not it’s own unique thing. In other CCGs those are things - but it isn’t in Duelyst and you’re right, you get advantage in other ways. I like that. You don’t have to.


Duelyst already is its own unique thing. The awesome pixel art is unique, the 2D board with quadratic tiles is unique, the lore is unique. There is no shame in adopting true and tested ideas in TCG design that have been optimized in decades of experience than doing your own thing just for the sake of it, failing and coming up with something that works worse and is actually a step back and thus resulting in a game that has a tremendous amount of potential but which falls short of what it could be. I really hope the developers are more open minded than that.


There is no shame in adopting ideas that worked for other games and there is no shame is creating new ones to work with a new, unique game. The developers have their vision for what they want from the game - and from what I see it’s been well received by most. Not every game will be to every person’s tastes but the systems in Duelyst are to my taste, even when the balance isn’t.


A. Because that is what they advertise it as, it is designed to work well with mobile. Also you can have plenty of depth in shorter matches, perhaps not as much as long drawn out games, but still enough. Also control can be quite viable, its just not nearly as common. Magmar in particular is well known for control, and doing it well. Control is where you get the 30 minute games rather then the 10.

B. Two fold, they help prevent the usual Player 1 wins advantage, in fact player two usually has a slight advantage. It also punishes people who try to turtle with ranged minions. Also to just punish turtling in general since it would lead to long drawn out games, which goes against the intentional and rather smart design for the target audience and platforms.

C. Deck size really is fine, between the replace function, and triple copies consistency is just fine, larger decks theoretically allow for more versatility as well. 40 is also a fairly tried and true number, its 60 if you need to include a mana resource, 40 if you don’t, very common. Also I hate single copy stuff, means low consistency and rng.

D. Again slightly pushing the shorter game and encouraging a lower curve, where alternatively you can deck great advantage of this with a low curve deck and linear draw, its actually pretty neat.

E. To a not split the player base of a smaller game leading to long que times, and B. unranked means horrid match making. So their solution is giving people platforms you cant drop from in ranked, so every time you move up a tier you can either choose to push, or just play casual there.

F. Kron will probably get some small changes. He is quite new.


c. Consistency should be as good as possible and it is a mathematical fact that having doublets in a deck of 30 is more consistent than having triplets in a deck of 40 (with 1 single card).

Look at those numbers:

draw 1 card:

37/40 = 0.925 7.5%

28/30 = 0.93333 6.6667%

draw 2 cards:

37/40 * 36/40 = (37 * 36) / 1600 = 0.8325 16.75%

28/30 * 27/30 = (28 * 27) / 900 = 0.84 16%

draw 3 cards:

37/40 * 36/40 * 35/40 = (37 * 36 * 35) / 64000 = 0.72 28%

28/30 * 27/30 * 26/30 = (28 * 27 * 26) / 27000 = 0.728 27.2%

draw 4 cards:

37/40 * 36/40 * 35/40 * 34/40 = (37 * 36 * 35 * 34) / 2560000 = 0.61917 38.083%

28/30 * 27/30 * 26/30 * 25/30 = (28 * 27 * 26 * 25) / 810000 = 0.60667 39.333%

draw 5 cards:

37/40 * 36/40 * 35/40 * 34/40 * 33/40 = (37 * 36 * 35 * 34 * 33) / 102400000 = 0.51082 48.918%

28/30 * 27/30 * 26/30 * 25/30 * 24/30 = (28 * 27 * 26 * 25 * 24) / 24300000 = 0.48533 51.466%

draw 6 cards:

37/40 * 36/40 * 35/40 * 34/40 * 33/40 * 32/40 = (37 * 36 * 35 * 34 * 33 * 32) / 4096000000 = 0.40865 59.135%

28/30 * 27/30 * 26/30 * 25/30 * 24/30 * 23/30 = (28 * 27 * 26 * 25 * 24 * 23) / 729000000 = 0.37208 62.791%

Only for drawing one, two or three cards having a deck of 40 gives you better consistency of drawing a certain card. Beginning with 4 cards the deck of 30 gives you better consistency and already for six card draws the deck of 30 has a 3.6% better chance of drawing that certain card. Depending on how replacement works (can you get back the card you replaced?) you can have drawn up to 8 cards in turn 1.

Also regarding versatility in a deck of 30 you can have 15 different doublets while for the deck of 40 you can only have 13 triplets (and 1 single) meaning even in that aspect the deck of 30 is superior.

Both under the aspects of consistency and versatility a deck of 30 is superior to a deck of 40.


I did not knock 2/30 I knocked single copies of legends, that is worse consistency, but perhaps a tad to much at 30 at two copies, thus why 3 of anything and 40 is the go to.


I just gave you the mathematical proof that both under the aspects of consistency and versatility a deck of 30 is superior. Please point out the error in my math - which can happen since I am actually dumb. Faeria and HS both use 30 so please stop insisting that 40 is the go to.


Math looked fine, but you did it for doublets out of 30, not singles out of 30 I think, but perhaps I misunderstood.

1/30 legends is the part I did not like, and yea having powerful combo enabling legends at 2/30 is probably to consistent, so in order to have them more consistent then 1/30 with single legends, but not to consistent 3/40 with full playsets of anything should be about right.

Yugioh, Shadow Era, draft magic, pokemon all do 40 and 3. Older arguably more popular games. So would say tried and true, and that was just a few, there are more.

Also hearthstone regularly gets into decking out which is not fun. This game almost never gets there, but the longer games get close which is again just right.


No I was not talking about unique cards. I do not really like that sort of design since it is too random. If a card is too OP to have more than one copy in a deck and reliable draw into it, it should not exist in the first place. In Duelyst having each legendary twice in a deck of 30 seems ok to me since (with certain exceptions) they are less powerful compared to unique legendaries in other games.

I played a lot of HS a despite playing only slow control decks only maybe 5% of my games ended in an empty deck. Any aggro or midrange deck either wins or loses before that. So it is far from regular like you say. Also this forces you to keep an eye of your remaining cards and opens up play styles which center around decking your opponent.


Ah ok. In that case I still lean towards slightly less consistent for power cards but with inclusion of tutors. And to be fair I have not played hearthstone very much so my perception of it is skewed. Replace
Mechanic also adds a lot of consistency.

One thing you left out of that is duelyst and the games I referred have tutors, and as far as I know hearth does not really. Personally I really like tutors rather then relying on draw. Given most of duelysts current tutors are pretty lack luster, but there is room for expansion with 3/40, not so much in 2/30.

Having deck out as a viable tactic is kind of an arguement for lower count decks, but ultimately duelyst has been pretty clear they want win cons to be through combat and killing the general rather then alt win conditions, so I dont think it fits here. So all in all decking out is not good for duelyst.


HS has a few tutors of the same kind that Duelyst has that let you draw a certain card type from your deck, but none like the original Deamonic Tutor from MTG that lets you actually pick a card.


You can find some statistics (not totally unbiased, only people who are registered at the site are considered) at The first/second player win rate statistics are a bit messed up because gauntlet is included for some reason. At first glance I would say that the win rates are fairly even.


Answer to all your questions :
a. Duelyst was NOT designed to play like HS or MTG. It’s meant to be fast paced. Ending in turn 9 or 10 is pretty common 'cause it’s the aim of the game.
b. To reinforce the fact that positioning matters, to give an early way to summon big minions or spells.
c. So you can have a well constructed deck. I hardly see ANYONE making a 30 or 20 cards deck in Duelyst. You wouldn’t have all the necessary cards to have a convenient deck.
d. You will rarely have 5 cards in your hand, don’t complain about having 6 being the maximum.
e. To make the game competitive. You HAVE to git gud.
f. Worry not, there are a lot more like him :wink:


Most of your points are already discussed in detail before so I am not gonna do that again except e. which I hope is joke. There is no difference in skill whether a player plays casual or ranked mode. The only thing that is different that ranked forces me to play competitive decks unless I am fine with losing ranks while in casual I can play not competitive, creative fun decks and not have to worry about losing.


e. Is a semi joke. I wouldn’t be against a casual mode to see all those “non competitive” cards being played. But I do think that Duelyst is meant to play competitive, so I don’t really care if they add one or not. I don’t think there is a difference in skill but competitiveness. Bad wording ( from me I guess )